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Federal Policy Week: Congressional Hearing on, Samueli Reception Invite, Stimulus Package PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Federal Policy Week: Congressional Hearing, Samueli Reception Invite, Stimulus Package

Summary:  The week of February 23, 2009 is promising to be the most significant policy week in the history of complementary, alternative and particularly integrative medicine. There will be a US Senate hearing on integrative medicine principles on the 23rd, the sold-out IOM Summit on the 25th-27th and a Samueli Institute reception on the 26th (sponsored with the Center for Mind Body Medicine, Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care, Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium, and the Tai Sophia Institute. Be there or be square. These actions come amidst an economic stimulus package, reported here, which includes $1 billion for a Wellness and Prevention Fund and $1.1 billion for effectiveness research. Also noted is a release from the American Chiropractic Association on chiro-related issues in the stimulus package.     
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US Senator Edward Kennedy
1.  US Senate hearing on integrative healthcare principles scheduled for February 23rd

Via the Samueli Institute, the Integrator received notice that the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of the US Senate, chaired by U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, will hold a special hearing on Monday, February 23, 2009 at 2:00 PM. The title: "Principles of Integrative Health: A Path to Health Care Reform." A link to the hearing is here; unfortunately, I could not open the site to discover the line-up of those scheduled to speak. Give it a try. The hearing will be in SD-430.

Comment: While I do not know the origins of the hearing, my guess is that the Bravewell Collaborative's considerable clout is behind it. The attention will be a good lead up to the IOM Summit later in the week. Kudos to the Senate for use of "integrative health" rather than "integrative medicine." That captures the appropriate direction.

Image2.  Samueli Institute, Gordon's CMBM, IHPC Tai Sophia and ACCAHC Sponsor February 26th Reception during IOM Summit

Wayne Jonas, MD and the Samueli Institute have taken the lead in sponsoring a reception "in honor of Integrative Healthcare Policy Week" in Washington, DC. The invitation, which the Institute made available for my notice here, urges attendees to "come and network with integrative healthcare, military medicine and federal health policy experts who are creating a Wellness Initiative for the Nation (WIN)." WIN is the initiative the Samueli Institute has been developing over the past six month and which was subject to a Healthcare Community Discussion which was the subject of an Integrator Alert on December 23, 2008.  Co-sponsoring the gathering are James Gordon's Center for Mind Body Medicine (CMBM), the Integrated Healthcare Policy Consortium, Tai Sophia Institute and the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC).  (Outcomes of CMBM's Healthcare Community Discussion are posted here in the Integrator.)  The gathering will be held at the Samueli Institute from 5:30-7:30 PM, February 26th. Those interested will have the opportunity to engage in organized dinner groupings, afterward, based on key themes promoted in the WIN document. Details on WIN are posted at the Samueli Institute site (
Comment:  Notably, the reception is also using the more inclusive "healthcare" language in promoting the wellness initiative. My understanding is that, if you are reading this, you are invited. Alignment of interest disclosure note: I am executive director of co-sponsor ACCAHC.

Barack Obama
3.   Obama's economic stimulus package includes billions for wellness and effectiveness research

The economic stimulus bill, a.k.a. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009 includes $1-billion to establish a Prevention and Wellness Fund and $1.1 billion for effectiveness research (Section 9201). A New York Times report on the effectiveness funds notes that the $1.1 billion will, "for the first time, provide substantial amounts of money for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness."
Effectiveness here includes cost. The account notes that Hillary Clinton was an early supporter of such research and that Obama endorsed the approach in his campaign. A brief description of the Prevention and Wellness Fund is here on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's site.
Comment:  While there is no direct mention of complementary, alternative and integrative strategies in the effectiveness section, there would appear to be a door open for making the case to use some of these funds to explore such approaches. The NYT account notes that the more civilized nations of Europe have been using effectiveness markers for some time, though the role of findings in policy shifts has been reportedly challenging. This is a bandwagon the Integrator has long promoted for our own limited NCCAM funds, and we should have been on a long time ago. Notably, NCCAM director Josephine Briggs, MD suggested in an Integrator interview that effectiveness would be a new direction for NCCAM. See New "Effectiveness" Direction for NCCAM: An Interview with Director Josephine Briggs, MD, November 26, 2008. (Thanks to Mitch Bebel Stargrove, ND, LAc for the link to the Times piece. I'd welcome details from anyoen on the Wellness Fund.) 

Americna Chiropractic Association
4.  Chiropractors see benefits to their profession in stimulus package

A February 16, 2009 Legislative/Regulatory Alert from the American Chiropractic Association notes 4 items "of interest to the chiropractic profession." Topping the list this:
"As a direct result of lobbying by the ACA-led Patient Access to Responsible Care Alliance (PARCA) coalition, non-MD/DOs will be eligible for a federal incentive program aimed at the establishment of electronic health record systems (EHRs). Under the new program, due to begin in 2011, physicians – including DCs – will be eligible for incentive payments  totaling more than $40,000 for meeting EHR standards developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the same time, the bill contains a plan to establish penalties for not adopting the standards, which would be due to start in 2016. The entire program is funded at $19 billion.
Two of the other four point are one related to bolstering of Medicaid payments and the wellness and effectiveness initiatives noted directly above.

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